by Carl Hedberg
The cannabis wars are heating up in North America as Obama sends in the troops to put down a healing and enterprise revolution that has grown out of control; that is, fallen into the hands of the people. This politically-motivat-
ed action has cut over 2,500 jobs in California alone, and driven thousands of patients back into the black market. The storm is rolling east, but it’s a big country and Federal prohibition forces will surely run out of will and resources long before they make it to New England— where there are certain sections I wouldn’t advise they try to invade…
Well aware that legalization is inevitable now that the truth can be found online, industrialists who have long benefitted from prohibition are quietly researching opportunities, filing patents, and doing their best to shape regulatory and commercial frameworks in the emerging cannabis trades. As if to head off the growing demand for the flower itself, Western governments (while still insisting cannabis is not medicine) have approved drugs like Marinol and Sativex, cannabis-derived pharmaceuti- cal products that patients often report are more expensive and less effective than the real thing.
In Canada, the re-birthplace of agricultural hemp in North America, the ruling parties are taking a similar hard line. Vancouver activist and entrepreneur Marc Emery experienced their harsh resolve when his own gov- ernment handed him over to serve five years in a US Federal prison—for the crimes of selling seeds, sowing the truth, and making good money in the cannabis trades.
The Tyranny of Modern Medicine
As portrayed in Upton Sinclair’s 1906 book The Jungle, 19th
century enterprisers were more concerned with making money than producing safe
products for their customers. In
those days drug makers were busy invent- ing
conditions and aggressively marketing cure-all reme- dies
containing dangerous and addictive
ingredients. Imagine that. In the interest
of public health, the federal government stepped in to oversee, regulate and police the industrialists.
This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was a flaw; freely elected governments with appointed officials have proven easy to infiltrate. By the end of the 20th century Washington was operating on the assumption that what was good for big business would ultimately be good for the nation; jobs, revenue, growth, captive markets, and lots of consumer spending. To make it all work, they had to deny some fundamental human rights like privacy and the right to grow and responsibly use medicinal flowers.
At the heart of this global scheme to control for profit what we use for medicine is a deep-rooted propaganda campaign that has installed the societal impression that prohibition is a fringe issue, and that cannabis is pot, a smoked substance for slackers that crafty stoners are call- ing medicine in an effort to free up their favorite party drug.
At the same time, billions of people have bought into the idea that ‘modern’ healthcare is about having insurance, meeting with doctors, filling prescriptions, and following instructions. As a result of this aggressive marketing approach, four out of five adults and half of the children in America take at least one prescription pill a week, and prescription drugs are now the 4th leading cause of death in America. To keep the truth at bay and everyone in line, many doctors are forbidden by their insurance carri- ers to discuss cannabis options with their patients, and some willingly disavow their Hippocratic oath by refus- ing to treat patients who confess to using the banned flower for medicine. In the name of public safety and winning the war on drugs, the government has now put itself in charge of educating our children about the evils of cannabis.
Parents like President Obama who used cannabis in their youth to no ill effect are expected to keep quiet (lie) about it and let DARE officials do what they have to do. Astonishingly, even empty nesters who enjoy cannabis tend to play by the rules because socially it would be way too unpleasant to do otherwise. In New England, smok- ing weed is a fine practice for prep school and college, but if you’re a fifty something professional with teens in the house, you’re probably still in the closet.
Cannabis the Exit Drug
The first generation of school children to go through the DARE program are now in college. Given the popularity of the book Marijuana is Safer, and the proliferation of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapters around the world, it’s clear that they’ve grown up and decided to think for themselves—and fight for the right to add cannabis to the party mix.
Let’s be honest; consuming alcoholic beverages can be a fun way to celebrate, but let’s also cut the crap. Alcohol kills; cannabis doesn’t. Cannabis isn’t physically addic- tive; alcohol can be. Cannabis-infused gatherings are famously peaceful, while alcohol-fueled celebrations are notoriously unstable. Now we’re learning that cannabis can help quell the use of pills and spirits.
In 2009 researchers at the School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley found that “medical cannabis patients have been engaging in substitution by using cannabis as an alternative to alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs. In late 2011, Maia Szalavitz reported for Time Magazine that “states that legalize medical mar- ijuana see fewer fatal car accidents, in part because people may be substituting marijuana smoking for drinking alco- hol.”
These findings are hopeful news for heavy drinkers and the people trying to help them—but many will first need to shake the notion that the only cure for alcoholism is sobriety. Here’s an example from a prohibition state on the east coast:
An elderly Purple Heart veteran is dying of cancer; cared for by his daughter and her husband—in a cramped two- bedroom apartment. For too long her old man has been dealing with his pain with a volatile mix of prescribed meds and Stoli shots, which he loudly raves for all day long.
The weary couple can usually hold him to four or
five, but every night he’s bitter, loud, and abusive. Three months before her father
dies, his daughter begins coloring his Stoli shots with a solid
dose of alcohol-based cannabis tincture she found
at a local freedom festival. The change
is miraculous. The old guy is suddenly talkative, relaxed, and
down to three shots a day. In those
final weeks he took a renewed
interest in watching his favorite
old war movie s. He got some rest, and
died in his sleep.
Truth, Healing and Enterprise
With no danger of a lethal overdose or physical addic- tion, cannabis is well-suited to personal exploration, including strains, edibles, raw juice, extracts, salves; whatever works. Seeds, clones, home remedies and care strategies are being shared, sold and bartered through a cautious and well-hidden community of growers, patients, healers, and practitioners. Weekend freedom festivals are the market square of the movement; a place to connect, toke, brag, haggle and sample kitchen cre- ations made from flowers lovingly grown in private.
Like the persecuted book lovers Ray Bradbury depicted in his chilling 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, cannabis afi- cionados are fundamentally law-abiding citizens who have been driven to secrecy by oppressive laws and social contracts that have neighbors watching neighbors for signs of moral decay. Since it is impossible to know who they can trust, cannabis consumers have become very good at hiding their forbidden behaviors.
In the privacy of their own lives, cannabis patients are quietly conducting home research that includes experi- menting responsibly on themselves, and sharing with people who want to know. The bravest among them are reaching out online with lectures, books, and compelling homemade videos of rediscovery and healing. As the truth comes out, the walls are coming down—and legal enterprisers are rushing in.
The cannabis trades, which Washington is simultaneous- ly attempting to deny and crush, are nevertheless deliv- ering jobs and opportunity to recession-weary carpen- ters, electricians, plumbers, practitioners, care growers, vendors, inventors, publishers, promoters, educators, online enterprisers…and a few are already making a liv- ing at it.
So the war is on; but take heart; pioneers like Oaksterdam trained a small army of growers and enter- prisers. Nearby Harborside Healthcare delivered truth and healing to thousands of patients. It’s not over yet, but we’re in the waning years of prohibition, and pow- erful interests on all sides are fighting it out over how best to shape and control and tax this emerging frontier.
Meanwhile, more and more patients are simply turning away from the whole ugly scene and heading for the underground—where they may well remain until Americans finally discover what cannabis really is and what it could do for them. When that happens they’ll rise up in a Gore minute and end this cruel war faster than a front runner can just say no.
Twitter questions and comments @cannabisrising or visit Carl on Facebook (thefinestgreen).
Carl Hedberg is a writer, speaker and medicinal use explorer working with legal cannabis care growers and their patients in New England. This argument is from the lecture; Cannabis Rising: Truth and healing on the front lines of the battle to restore our right to choose.